How To Find A Work-Life Balance That Works
With all the accessibility afforded to us by technology, it’s easy to still be caught up at work even after leaving the office. There are many factors that have folks putting in 50-hour or even 65-hour work weeks, both at work and at home: fears of job loss, financial pressure, or struggling to meet the expectations of colleagues. However, the compounding stress of your job along with a lack of downtime can damage your health. Prioritising your work over your personal life can also hurt your relationships as well as your physical and mental wellbeing. The best preventative measure against burnout is a healthy work-life balance. This can look different for different people, but the following tips could put you on the path to finding harmony between your personal and professional lives.
Finding Balance At Work
Time management: Minimise disruptions and limit time-wasting activities and people by becoming strict with your daily schedule that is built around your personal and professional priorities. Don’t be afraid to limit time-wasting activities and conversations either. You are allowed to politely excuse yourself from a conversation with the office chatterbox or bow out of going out for drinks after work in favour of getting a decent night’s sleep.
Reduce email access: Your daily habit of checking your email first thing in the morning may be hurting your productivity throughout the day. You may have walked into work knowing what you wanted to accomplish that day, only to have those plans derailed the minute you got a look at your inbox. Rather block off an hour or two later in the day to review and respond to emails. This will allow you to get the most out of your mornings without burning out by lunchtime.
Learn to say no: There more responsibilities you commit to, the more people will believe you can take on. It’s alright to admit to your boss or even to yourself that you already have a lot on your plate and have to decline managing that team or starting on yet another project. There is certainly a time when going the extra mile pays off, but these commitments should never be made at the expense of your health and personal relationships.
Exercise/meditation: Exercise is a sure-fire way to reduce your stress as it pours endorphins into your system, while putting your mind into a meditative state. The happy hormones and oxygenated blood rushing through your brain can help you solve issues that you’ve been grappling with all day. So, try jogging up the stairs in your office building or start a lunchtime walking group with some of your coworkers. If you don’t have the time or space to get in a proper workout, consider trying some exercises that can be done at your desk or simply take five minutes to meditate or practice deep breathing at your desk.
Balancing Life Outside Of The Office
Healthy living: Stick to a predominantly Mediterranean Diet – emphasising fresh fruit and vegetables and lean proteins – which promotes brain health and physical stamina. Getting enough sleep can do much of the same, so avoid electronic devices like phones and tablets before bed, and aim to get a full eight hours when you can.
Leave work at work: Whether you’re telecommuting or simply expected to jump for your boss outside of work, an expectation of constant accessibility can make the work day seem unending. Constant phone notifications can take you out of a personal moment and leave you stressed about issues at work that shouldn’t be a problem until you’re back in the office where you can actually do something about them. So, shut off your phone and allow real quality time for the things that matter in your personal life – family, friends, hobbies.
Dedicate time to having fun: Be intentional about your quality time and schedule activities (or even complete inactivity) that you enjoy, whether with friends or on your own. Spend time on a hobby that builds you up or discover a fun, new pastime. Even better, find a hobby you can do with a friend, your partner or your family, like hiking or dancing.
Volunteer: While you should be careful not to overschedule yourself, performing random acts of kindness and selective volunteering may reduce your sense of burnout and improve your social and emotional wellbeing. By giving back to your community, you are reminded of the things you are grateful for in your own life and can feel more connected within the community you’re serving.
Get the most out of your free time so you can put in that extra energy at work when it counts.